Featuring a double Shawarma close-up and Kurdish 'Samoon' bread.
Over the last few years these premises have been home to at least 4 different businesses - so we thought we'd better eat here before it changed again, as we missed Dubai and Soulav Restaurant - and didn't really care about Villa Pizza.
Anyway - we finally got to eat at Arbil (Capital of Kurdistan) - which gave us a second clue to its nationality by serving freshly baked Kurdish bread - 'samoon', which we'd never encountered before. The types of Middle Eastern eating establishments in Rusholme can be split into 2 loose categories - the ones that sell the huge naan from the clay oven, kobedas, tikka and Qabli Pilau (Kobeda Place, Jazera, Sadaf etc) and the ones that serve smaller (or packet) bread, shawarma, falafel, mixed salad plates and other things of that sort (Jaffa, Falafel) - Arbil falls into the latter category. We both had lamb shawarma (here spelt 'shawerma') on samoon bread (£3) which was excellent. It was almost like eating a delicious burger - as the samoon bread was like a large and doughy bun - though it was a far smaller meal than you'd get for the same price at Zam Zam - kobeda on naan. The meat was superb - as good as any shawarma we've had in the area. Everything else was a bit limited - there was barely any room for salad and it felt like sauce would drown the bread which was already moist from the fatty meat. As sometimes can be the case communication was not all that easy and minor points were forgotten or misheard - but that's the way of it, we got fed and quickly so no real complaints. If you're starving this probably isn't a great place to go as the portions are a bit smaller than at other establishments (the guy serving asked me how many shawarmas I wanted - I reluctantly conceded 'one'). The food is good and genuinely different to most of the other cafes in Rusholme (a particular mention goes to a watery yellow 'pickle' that was served separately and really cut through the salty grease of the meat) – also if you’re in the mood for the king of Middle Eastern kebabs, the Shawarma, there are few finer examples – at least going by today’s offering. Just have two.
Scores out of 10Meat 9.5
Bread 8.0Salad/Sauces 6.5
Service/Setting 6.0Average 7.5